lunes, 15 de junio de 2015

Travelling abroad

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes"

Marcel Proust

International trade

Read the extract from an article about outsourcing. For each question 1-5, mark ONE letter A, B, C or D. 

The benefits of outsourcing Outsourcing means contracting out certain functions to outside specialists. The great advantage of it is that it …………….. (1) companies to avoid unnecessary fixed costs and concentrate on growing their business. Almost anything can be outsourced. Some functions are …………….. (2) processes with easily defined outputs, such as payroll processing and office cleaning. Some require …………….. (3) on skills or equipment which a medium-sized company could not afford: IT (requiring skilled staff and technology), call centres (providing round-the-clock availability) and accountancy (requiring professional skills and knowledge of changing regulations) are …………….. (4) of this. Sometimes outsourcing converts fixed costs into variable ones and improves speed to market. Sometimes it takes the hard work out of otherwise high-value business. The only activities that should not be outsourced are those which are absolutely …………….. (5) to the business. 

1 A facilitates B grants C eases D allows 
2 A staple B average C customary D standard 
3 A outlay B budgets C investment D overheads 
4 A samples B instances C representatives D occurrences 
5 A prime B principal C core D focal 

Text from: Whitehead, R. and Harrison, M. 2006. Achieve Bulats. English for International Business. Heinle Cengage Learning.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE VOCABULARY: You should try to include some of these expressions in your vocabulary 

Keep to targets 
Cut costs 
Meet targets 
A gap in the market 
Move upmarket 
Global ambitions 
Undercut the competition 
Go into a whole new area 
Spread risks 
Wage a price war 
Go global 

Now, increase your knowledge and vocabulary on international trade by watching this video: 

lunes, 11 de mayo de 2015

Customs- airport life

You don't need magic to disappear. All you need is a destination



1) Complete the text with the following words:

a) board – b) called – c) control – d) gate – e) in – f) lounge – g) off – h) pass

Anyway, I arrived at the airport early and checked _____ (1) really quickly. Once I had my boarding _____ (2) I decided to go straight through passport ______ (3) so that I could relax in the departure _____ (4) with a good book. I wasn’t really concentrating and when my flight was ______ (5) I got up and rushed off –to the wrong _____ (6)! Luckily I had time to spare and managed to _____ (7) the plane. Anyway, we’ve just taken _____ (8) and I’m really looking forward to my holiday.

2) Choose the correct option.

1) Please ______ = Please don’t leave your seat.
a) remain seated b) keep sitting c) stay sitting

2) The captain has _____ off the seatbelt sign.
a) made/created b) turned/switched c) clicked/clocked

3) We will be _____ out free headphones.
a) passing b) pacing c) taking

4) _____ = Free-of-charge = Free
a) required b) complimentary c) mandatory

5) Every passenger has to _____ a customs form.
a) feel out b) fail to c) fill out

6) Please make sure that bag is _____ under the seat in front of you.
a) complete b) completing c) completely

7) At this _____ we ask you to please turn off all wireless devices.
a) time b) schedule c) hour

8) This bag is a little too big for _____ luggage. You are going to have to check it.
a) airplane b) cabin c) plane

9) I’m sorry, but you are not allowed to _____ the cockpit.
a) entrance b) entry c) enter

10) Upon ______, all passengers must go through immigration and customs.
a) arrival b) arrive c) arrived


Click on the links and watch the videos, I hope you enjoy!!!



You'd be surprised by the types of items that make their way through airport security -- from corkscrews and screwdrivers to wrenches and lighters. What's more, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on March 5, 2013, that its list of "Prohibited Items" will soon shrink. As of April 25, 2013, passengers will be allowed to bring pocket knives, hockey sticks, billiard cues, ski poles and golf clubs on board with them. Although this security move has been widely contended by everyone from flight attendants to victims of 9/11, these potentially dangerous items will join a long list of questionable carry-on cargo. 

When discussing unusual objects permitted on commercial flights, the 2006 film, Snakes on a Plane, immediately comes to mind: Actor Samuel L. Jackson's character spends his in-flight time battling -- you guessed it -- snakes. In the movie, the snakes caused quite a commotion in the cabin, but in real life, they technically have a right to fly (providing that they're transported according to TSA guidelines). And don't be surprised if you see a monkey flying first-class; simians are welcome to fly on some airlines as long as they've got "service animal" status. Shocked? Keep reading for more unusual items allowed on board. 

No, you can't bring ... Scissors 

TSA prohibits travelers from flying with scissors that have pointed blades longer than 4 inches. Transportation security officials classify scissors of this size as a "sharp object" that could potentially be used to harm fellow passengers. 

But you can bring... Knitting needles 

Lucky for crafts folk, knitting needles and crochet hooks are conveniently excluded from TSA's "Prohibited Items" list. Although their long length and pointed (albeit not sharp to the touch) ends could pose a threat to fellow flyers, TSA officials let knitting needles pass through security checkpoints. However, don't be surprised if you encounter a TSA agent who prevents you from carrying on your craft's tools. To avoid an unpleasant scenario at security, arm yourself with a less-threatening set of needles, such as a pair of circular needles made from wood or plastic. When passing through airport security, you can save your carry-on from a thorough search by removing your needles and other equipment from your bag and placing them straight in the plastic bin. As for specialized tools, like circular thread cutters: You're better off packing those in your checked luggage. 

No, you can't bring... Ice picks 

Understandably, this spear-like tool used for chipping and carving ice cannot be carried into the cabin of an aircraft. Standard ice picks feature a sharp, metal rod that could be used as a weapon. 

But you can bring... Ice skates 

Figure skaters and hockey players rejoice: Your bladed footwear does not appear on the TSA's "Prohibited Items" list. Although the blades can be dangerous to fellow passengers, especially if they have toe-picks (just ask a synchronized skater), security officials do allow skates through the security checkpoint. However, some airlines may require passengers to check their skates at the gate for security reasons or space limitations. Before heading to the airport, stow your skates in a bag small enough to be considered a carry-on item, and make sure the blades are covered. Also, bear in mind that some airlines do not permit skates to fly in the cabin. You'll want to confirm with your airline that skates are allowed as carry-on luggage. 

No, you can't bring... Gel shoe inserts 

According to TSA guidelines, "gellin'" passengers will not be allowed to pass through airport security. Gel shoe inserts -- which help alleviate back and foot pain by providing more support to your soles -- exceed the 3.4-ounce limit on carry-on liquids. 

But you can bring... Snow globes 

As long as it appears to contain no more than 3.4 ounces of liquid and can fit in the clear, re-sealable security-check bag, these popular items can be brought on board. Whether it's a souvenir from your trip to Disney World or a holiday gift for grandma, your snow globe should have no problem securing a place with you on the plane. Because there's no real way to measure how much fluid a snow globe contains, you'll have to estimate. Here's a rule of thumb, according to the TSA website: If the snow globe is larger than a tennis ball, it's probably too big to fly.

No, you can't bring... A dead body 

Believe it or not, this is a rather common occurrence in the travel world: To save on the high cost of transporting a deceased loved one, travelers attempt hide the body in a carry-on bag or disguise the body to make it appear alive. Big no-no: Even if you somehow pass through airport security, your flight attendant is bound to catch on sooner or later.

But you can bring... Cremated remains 

Although certain airlines will not allow travelers to board the aircraft with cremated remains (you should call the airline before booking your ticket to verify), TSA officials will never open and sift through a crematory container. But while security officials strive to be as respectful as possible, they must do what is necessary to protect all passengers, meaning the container will have to pass through the X-ray machine along with your other carry-on items. To make this process easier, store your loved one's remains in a container made from a light-weight material -- like wood, cardboard or plastic -- that will allow security a clear picture of what's inside. Urns made from metal or other heavier materials can obscure the X-ray image; if this happens, TSA agents will not allow the item past the security checkpoint. 

No, you can't bring... Throwing stars and nunchucks 

These objects -- along with brass knuckles, billy clubs and pepper spray -- are listed on the TSA's "Prohibited Items" list. Even if you envision encountering ninjas on your flight, it's best to pack these items in your checked luggage. 

But you can bring... Whips and chains 

If the action you're anticipating belongs behind closed doors, then you'll be glad to note that you can pack your adult toys in your carry-on. Just be aware that items such as handcuffs and whips will be noticed at the security checkpoint, which could lead to an awkward (and public) conversation with TSA agents. Most adult toys are allowed in the airplane cabin. However, you will want to remove the batteries from any electronic items -- the last thing you want is for something to start buzzing should your bag need to be searched or while you rifle through your personal items mid-flight. And as for oils or gels: As long as they comply with the 3.4-ounce rule and you're not too embarrassed to lay them out in a clear plastic bag at airport security, you're good to go. Just don't plan on joining the "Mile High Club"; although it's not technically against the law, it is illegal to disobey crew member instructions. Flight attendants will notice what you're up to and ask you to return to your seats.

Adapted from:


and now… some questions for you! We can talk about them

1. After watching the video on the listening section, how important do you think it is to pay attention to the stewardesses during the flights? Do you usually pay attention to them?
2. What’s your opinion on the flights’ carry-on restrictions?
3. Have you ever had a bad experience at an airport?


Exercise 1

1 - E 
2 – H
3 - C 
4 – F
5 - B 
6 – D
7 - A
8 – G

Exercise 2
1 - A 
2 – B
3 - A 
4 – B
5 - C 
6 – C
7 - A 
8 – B
9 - C 
0 - A


The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet




1. Complete the gaps with the following words:

a) background – b) basic – c) goal – d) graduate – e) illiteracy – f) system

1) You need an educational _____ in mathematics if you want to be an engineer.
2) Something should be done to reform the educational _____ of the developing countries.
3) University _____ find difficulties to find a job nowadays.
4) One educational _____ for developing countries would be at least a _____ education for every citizen.
5) Putting an end to adult _____ is another priority for developing countries.

Adapted from 

2. Complete the gaps with the following words:

a) blackboard – b) attendance – c) textbook – d) semesters – e) recess – f) seminar – g) freshman – h) principal – i) graduation – j) enroll

1) The teacher writes on the _____.
2) A _____ is a student in the first year of university.
3) The period of time between classes when children do not study is called _____.
4) The teacher calls your name to take _____ at the beginning of class.
5) The periods into which a year is divided at school, college or university are called ______.
6) An occasion when a teacher or expert and a group of students meet to study and discuss something is called _____.
7) The book that contains detailed information about a subject is called a _____.
8) The _____ ceremony is when you receive your degree for completing your education or a course of study.
9) To _____ at the college means to put yourself in the official list of members of that college.
10) The head teacher of a school is called a _____.

Adapted from 


What do rap shows, barbershop banter and Sunday services have in common? As Christopher Emdin says, they all hold the secret magic to enthrall and teach at the same time — and it’s a skill we often don't teach to educators. Watch the video and learn more!


Don’t be seduced by the US –UK universities offer a richer education 

US universities offer the seductive promise of a world-class research environment combined with unparalleled facilities. For many in UK higher education, this is the model our own universities should be imitating. But is this necessarily a wise goal? I have taught history in US, UK, and Canadian universities. In the humanities at least, UK universities fulfil one of their fundamental aims – that of educating the next generation – far better than their US counterparts. What lessons, then, can UK universities offer to their transatlantic counterparts? 

It's about seminars, not stature 

In UK universities, the focus is still on small-group teaching, and much of the undergraduate degree is conducted in seminars of 20 students or less. These seminars are taught by full-time staff who are experts in their field and have undergone extensive training in pedagogy. 

In US universities, the focus is on lectures until the final year of a four-year degree. These lecture classes range in size from 25 to 425 students. Some, though certainly not all, lectures will have an accompanying discussion group component, but it is unusual for full-time staff to lead them. The small groups are more commonly run by postgraduates with limited knowledge of the material and no specialised training. 

Marking is also done by postgraduates. The advantage is that it frees up the more senior staff to conduct research. The drawback is that students' most intense learning experiences, the seminars, are largely a secondary consideration. What is the advantage of having a staff of world-class researchers when the only contact they have with undergraduates is one hour a week in a massive lecture? 

The high cost of marketisation 

Decades of cutbacks in public funding have forced US universities and colleges to raise tuition fees dramatically. A single year's tuition at a public university often costs over $15,000; at a private university, over $30,000; and at a private liberal arts college or an elite private university, over $40,000. This is all exclusive of living expenses, for which there is almost no public support whatsoever. 

Combined with the cutbacks in loans and grants, this means that the most intense undergraduate experience, at a private university or college with a relatively low student-staff ratio, is often inaccessible to those American households on the 2012 median income of $51,017. Even tuition at a public university, traditionally the lowest for students attending in their home states, is becoming increasingly difficult to afford for middle-class families, let alone working-class ones. 

The argument made by the current UK government that marketisation will eventually make higher education more affordable is unsupported by evidence. Continued efforts in this direction will leave us with a system much like that in the US, where only an elite few can afford the best education, and many cannot afford one at all. 

Jack of all trades, master of none 

Put simply, the level of expectation, in terms of critical thinking and analysis within any given discipline, is significantly lower at the most prestigious of the US institutions than at their UK counterparts. In assessments, US students are tested for their general familiarity with relatively small samples of material, often through multiple-choice and short-answer formats. This is a natural reflection of a broad curriculum that sees students enrolled in modules across the academic spectrum every term. It remains the case until one reaches the third and fourth years, when seminars and a more substantial load of reading and written work within one's major becomes the norm. 

In the UK, the opposite prevails. From the first year on, students remain focused on one discipline, which fosters both critical engagement and expertise within that mode of inquiry. In the US, I counted it a teaching success when I could communicate to my students a general historical narrative, the rudiments of historical analysis and the sense that the past was at least somewhat relevant in their lives. 

Here, I feel that I am teaching each student how to be an historian. Honing one's mind through the crucible of such an education is not just the key to becoming an informed member of society, it is essential to living a meaningful life at all. True learning happens at the farthest horizons of inquiry, not its nearest shores. And breadth is a poor exchange for depth, just as familiarity is merely a shadow of comprehension.

Adapted from: 

Do you want to know the differences between the UK and US education systems? Then take a look at those links! 


and now… some questions for you! We can talk about them 

1. How different are the UK and the US educational system from the Spanish one?
2. What is your opinion on the current educational system in Spain?
3. What do you think of the picture below? Could it be the portrait of reality?


Exercise 1

1 - A 
2 – F
3 - D 
4a – C
4b - B 
5 – E

Exercise 2

1 - A  
2 – G 
3 - E 
4 –B 
5 - D  
6 –F 
7 - C 
8 – I
9 - J 
10 – H

viernes, 8 de mayo de 2015

The most important job

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother 

           Abraham Lincoln

The most important job


 The actor playing the interviewee told applicants that the open position was for a 'director of operations' job

 When he went into the demanding requirements of the job they all acted incredulous, rolling their eyes, frowning and scoffing

A new ad cleverly highlights the impossible demands placed on mothers by portraying parenthood as a real job.In the video ( ), a series of applicants are interviewed for a 'director of operations' position via webcam, with a man on the other end explaining the role they're expected to fulfil.

The interviewees get more and more incredulous as he tells them the position is 365 days a year, 24 hours a day with no pay, no vacation and long periods of standing up and bending over.

Cardstore started by posting a fake classified ad online to fill a 'Director of Operations' position at a place called Rehtom, Inc (which is 'mother' spelled backwards).

Despite all the crazy requirements listed in the job description, they received 24 responses from real people and conducted webcam interviews, which were then made into an ad by Boston agency Mullen. Each of the interviews starts out normally, until the interviewer begins to elaborate on the details of the job.

'This job requires that you must be able to work standing up most or really all of the time,' he says. 'You're constantly on your feet, constantly bending over, constantly exerting yourself, a high level of stamina.' 'That's a lot,' says one woman, wincing a little at the prospect. The actor playing the interviewer adds: 'We're really looking for someone that has a degree in medicine and finance and the culinary arts.' And when another woman asks if there are any breaks at all, he responds: 'You can have lunch, but only when the associate is done eating their lunch.'

He elaborates by saying: 'It's not just a job, it's sort of... probably the most important job,' but the interviewees don't buy it.

When he tells one woman that there is no pay, that she'll be expected to work 24 hours a day, and that 'sometimes [she'll] have to stay up with an associate throughout the night,' her eyes widen.

'If you had a life, we'd ask you to sort of give that life up,' he says.

'That's almost cruel,' she responds. 'That's almost a very, very sick, twisted joke.'

What's more, not only are there no holidays, but he tells the applicants that they'll be expected to work even more on special occasions.

And he justifies the demands by explaining: 'The meaningful connections that you make and the feeling that you get from helping your associate are immeasurable.'

Finally, the interviews take a turn when he says: 'What if I told you that there's actually someone that holds this position right now? Billions of people actually.... Moms.'

'Oh my god,' says one interviewee, smiling when he realizes he's been duped. 'Moms are the best!' Another man grins as he says: 'Now I'm thinking about my mom. I'm thinking about all those nights and everything.'

The touching video, which was made in honor of Mother's Day on May 11, has had more than 1.5million YouTube views since it was posted yesterday.

It concludes with a banner that says: 'This Mother's Day, you might want to make her a card.'

Read more:

EXTRA! “Once upon a time, my mother…”
Storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy spins a funny, wise and luminous tale of parents and kids, starring her Cuban mother. Settle in and enjoy the ride — Mama's driving!

viernes, 17 de abril de 2015

Idioms I

Idioms are phrases which people use in everyday language which do not make sense literally but we understand that they mean

English idioms

20 essential English idioms for sounding like a native 

So you’re in an American bar. It’s loud, but you can make out what people are saying. You hear a fellow drinker talking all about hitting books… Another is talking about twisting someone’s arm… And it sounds like someone’s been stabbed in the back. What the heck is going on? You scratch your head and wonder why you’re still lost even though you can translate the words. Well, you’ve just had your first introduction to English idioms.

What Are English Idioms?

English idioms are a group of words which have a meaning which isn’t obvious from looking at the individual words. They have developed over time and so they might seem random to you. English idioms often rely on analogies and metaphors. Because they’re used so often in everyday English, if you don’t know them, it’s almost impossible to understand the context.

Why Learn English Idioms?

Does this sound familiar? You took traditional classes. You learned the grammar, the rules, and hundreds of exceptions. You have a vocabulary that could rival an American student’s. You even have a couple of certificates hanging proudly on your wall stating you are indeed proficient in English…. So why is it you just can’t get it sometimes?

Well, what you learn from textbooks and what you learn from the real world are two totally different things when it comes to language learning. What you really need is a stronger mastery of English idioms and expressions. Learning common everyday English idioms will help you fit in with most situations whether it’s at a basketball game, over a beer, studying or going out on a hot date.

The key to understanding English idioms is never to look at them or read them in a literal sense – once you unlock the secrets of idiomatic English language then you’ll have cracked the code! To help you master English idioms, we’ve gathered together 20 of the most common American English idioms and expressions. They’re useful for ESL students, or anyone learning English. Enjoy!

20 Essential English Idioms for ESL Students

1. (To) Hit the books

Literally, hit the books means to physically hit, punch or slap your reading books. However, this is a common English idiom among students, especially American college students who have a lot of studying to do. It simply means “to study,” and is a way of telling your friends that you’re going to study. It could be for a final exam, a mid-term test or even an English exam.
“Sorry but I can’t watch the game with you tonight, I have to hit the books. I have a huge exam next we2ek!”

2. (To) Hit the sack

Just like the first idiom, the literal meaning of this would be physically hitting or beating a sack (a large bag usually used for carrying things in bulk such as flour, rice or even soil). But actually to hit the sack means to go to bed, and you’d use this to tell your friends or family that you’re really tired, so you’re going to sleep. Instead of saying hit the sack you can also say hit the hay.
“It’s time for me to hit the sack, I’m so tired.”

3. (To) Twist someone’s arm

To twist someone’s arm literally means to take a person’s arm and turn it around, which could be really painful if you take it exactly word for word. If your arm has been twisted it means that someone has done a great job of convincing you to do something you might not have wanted to to do.
And if you manage to twist someone else’s arm it means that you’re great at convincing them, and they’ve finally agreed to do something after you’ve been begging them.
Tom: Jake you should really come to the party tonight!
Jake: You know I can’t, I have to hit the books (study).
Tom: C’mon, you have to come! It’s going to be so much fun and there are going to be lots of girls there. Please come?
Jake: Pretty girls? Oh all right, you’ve twisted my arm, I’ll come!

4. (To be) Up in the air

When we literally think about something up in the air, we have the idea that something’s floating or flying in the sky, perhaps an airplane or a balloon. But really if someone tells you that things are up in the air it means that these things are uncertain or unsure; definite plans have not been made yet.
“Jen have you set a date for the wedding yet?”
“Not exactly, things are still up in the air and we’re not sure if our families can make it on the day we wanted. Hopefully we’ll know soon and we’ll let you know as soon as possible.”

5. (To) Stab someone in the back

If we take this idiom literally we could find ourselves in a whole lot of trouble with the police, as it would mean taking a knife or another sharp object and putting into a person’s back. However, as an idiom to stab someone in the back means to hurt someone who was close to us and trusted us by betraying them secretly and breaking their trust. We call the person who does this a back stabber1.
“Did you hear that Sarah stabbed Kate in the back last week?”
“No! I thought they were best friends, what did she do?”
“She told their boss that Kate wasn’t interested in a promotion at work and Sarah got it instead.”
“Wow, that’s the ultimate betrayal! No wonder they’re not friends anymore.”

6. (To) Lose your touch

Literally this means to no longer have the ability to touch or feel with your fingers or hands. But to lose your touch actually means that you lose your ability or talent you once had when dealing with things, people or situations. We use this when you’re usually good at a certain skill or talent, but then things start to go wrong.
“I don’t understand why none of the girls here want to speak to me.”
“It looks like you’ve lost your touch with the ladies.”
“Oh no, they used to love me, what happened?”

7. (To) Sit tight

To sit tight is a strange English idiom and it literally means that you sit down squeezing your body in a tight way, which if you did it would be very uncomfortable, not to mention you’ll look really strange.
But if a person tells you to sit tight they want you to wait patiently and take no action until you hear otherwise.
“Mrs. Carter, do you have any idea when the exam results are going to come out?”
“Who knows Johnny, sometimes they come out quickly but it could take some time. You’re just going to have to sit tight and wait.”

8. (To) Pitch in

This English idiom actually makes no sense if you try to take it literally. However, figuratively speaking it means to contribute (give) to something or someone or to join in. So if your dad tells the family that he wants everyone to pitch in this weekend and help clear the backyard, it means he wants everyone to join in on the efforts to clear the yard and get things done quicker.
“What are you going to buy Sally for her birthday?”
“I don’t know I don’t have much money.”
“Maybe we can all pitch in and buy her something great.”
The above conversation suggests that every one of Sally’s friends should contribute a little bit of money so they can afford to buy her a bigger and better present together.

9. (To) Go cold turkey

Sound weird? Well, you’re right, it does, how can anyone literally go cold turkey? A person can’t transform into the bird we all love to eat for celebrations such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. The origins of this English idiom are strange and to go cold turkey means to suddenly quit or stop addictive or dangerous behavior such as smoking or drinking alcohol. This English idiom is said to have originated in the late 20th century and suggests that a person who suddenly quits something addictive—such as drugs or alcohol—suffers from side effects that look like a cold, uncooked turkey. This includes pale (very white) skin and goosebumps (little small bumps on the skin when we’re cold or sick).
“Shall I get your mom a glass of wine?”
“No, she’s stopped drinking?”
“Really, why?”
“I don’t know. A few months ago, she just announced one day she’s quitting drinking.”
“She just quit cold turkey?”
“Yes, just like that!”

10. (To) Face the music

In literal terms facing the music means to turn your body to the direction of the music and stand in front of it. But if your friend or your parents tell you to face the music, there’s a much harsher meaning.
It means to “face reality” or to deal with the reality of the situation and accept all the consequences good or bad (but mostly bad). Perhaps you’ve been avoiding something because you feel unsure or scared of the outcome. Maybe you lied to your teacher and she discovered the truth and now you have to face the music and accept the punishment.
“I can’t understand why I failed math.”
“You know you didn’t study hard, so you’re going to have to face the music and take the class again next semester if you really want to graduate when you do.”


- Learn English Idioms: Improve and learn English in a very easy and funny way: